The Prolific Oven – 11/13/09

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By Carl Haynes, November 14, 2009 3:28 am

All week long when I asked Maya if she wanted Cake or Ice Cream for Dessert Friday, she responded with “Cake!”, so we decided to find some cake. The Prolific Oven is a small chain (I think they have 4 restaurants) that have a good selection of cake by the slice.

Maya had the chocolate on chocolate and proceeded to eat the frosting and didn’t want much of the cake

11-13-09 - Prolific Oven

The cake itself was fine, if a bit dry. It had a good chocolatey taste and was perfectly acceptable.

I had the pumpkin cake and was unimpressed. It did not have much pumpkin flavor and I though the fruit and nuts that were within the cake were much too large. It had what I assume is a cream cheese frosting, but was also lacking in flavor.

11-13-09 - Prolific Oven

Overall, the bakery is ok in a pinch, especially if its in your neighborhood, but don’t go too far out of your way to visit.

Prolific Oven Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Flea Street Cafe – 07/24/09

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By Carl Haynes, July 29, 2009 4:03 pm

We’ve spent the last few Fridays at the pour your own yogurt places as Maya has generally been grumpy without her naps and we don’t like subjecting other diners to her when she’s not having fun. However last friday she had a long nap and was quite chipper so off we went to Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park.

Flea Street Cafe has been around forever, I went there quite a bit long ago when I lived nearby. I always remembered it for quite tasty food. I read recently how they have been organic and sustainable since way before it was cool, so I figured we would be in for some great desserts. We weren’t disappointed.

Sorry, No pictures…we forgot our camera.

It was a little fancier than I remembered, everyone else seemed much more dressed up than we were (not that that fazes us). Maya was definitely the only kid in the place. We asked if we could sit outside but were told that they had closed up the patio for the night so we sat in the main dining room.

I ordered the Peach Galette and Susan ordered the apricot cobbler. Both were fantastic, nice and sweet. The crust on the tart was perfect. The apricot cobbler came with some ice cream which Maya hogged. Over-all these were about as good as fruit desserts get.

As we were leaving, Susan commented that she thought this was one of the best Dessert Friday’s we have had. This was definitely a place we want to re-visit for dinner.

Flea Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pinkberry – 07/03/09

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By Carl Haynes, July 13, 2009 4:40 pm

OK, one of our tenets is to not visit chains, but we made an exception for Pinkberry after curiosity got the best of us.

We were bored the other night and really wanted ice cream, I suggested Pinkberry, mostly because I knew Maya could run around as much as she wanted while eating the yogurt.

The line was out the door, but moved pretty quickly. There’s only 4 flavors so why does it take people so long to sample all of them?

We ordered and got our yogurt quickly as we like it plain, without any toppings.

Maya - July 2009

I got plain and Susan got a Passionfruit/coconut combo. We both liked it fine, didn’t think it was anything special but it did taste good on a warm summer evening.

It certainly got the thumbs up from Maya.

Maya - July 2009

We’ve since tried Red Mango and a few others and found them all to be pretty similar. Pinkberry is more family friendly because of the location but we’ll probably return to whichever one is closest without caring about the brand.

Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Just in case you are wondering…

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By Carl Haynes, May 26, 2009 3:33 pm

There haven’t been any recent Dessert Fridays because Susan and Maya are traveling in Uganda at the moment. This blog is on vacation until they return in June.

Madera – 04/11/09

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By Carl Haynes, April 16, 2009 4:30 pm

Last Friday we drove a little out of our local dessert zone to hit Madera at 280/Sand Hill Road. Madera is a new restaurant in a new hotel complex called Rosewood Sand Hill.

The restaurant looks very nice, there is a large open kitchen as you walk in. We were greeted and seated immediately and the fact that we had a two year old didn’t seem to faze anyone, they brough Maya a cup with a lid and a straw which was nice. The major downside was that the place was very very dark, it was hard to read the menus. I think it was because we were placed in the back of the restaurant (which we didn’t mind, we just wish it was a little lighter).

Madera - 04/11/09

I ordered the chocolate mousse ($10.00) and Susan ordered the pear tart ($10.00) which came almond ice cream.

Susan devoured the pear tart and declared it delicious. We thought the almond ice cream was very good but the pieces of almond were much too big for the small scoop of ice cream.

I enjoyed (as did Maya) the chocolate mousse. Underneath there were large crystals of salt which were a pleasant surprise but there were too many of them and after the first couple bites with the salt I found myself trying to get bites of the mousse without the salt.

(sorry for the bad pic, we decided using the flash would be too disturbing to the other people in the restaurant)

Madera - 04/11/09

Madera on Urbanspoon

Real Ice Cream – 04/03/09

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By Carl Haynes, April 6, 2009 3:14 pm

On Friday we travelled to Santa Clara for a visit to Real Ice Cream, an indian ice cream place that is also a cafe. We were interested in trying some of the flavors that you don’t get at your typical ice cream place. I had the Cardamom and the Falooda. Susan had the Rum & Raisin (her favorite) and Lychee.

I thought the Cardamom was the best of the bunch, had a nice aftertaste that left you thinking, “yep, that’s cardamom”. The Falooda was interesting (and bright pink). It has a rose flavor and we couldn’t identify what was mxed into it, was it the Falooda seeds? It was chewy and not very flavorful, ina Falooda drink you normally have noodles, maybe thats what it was? I still have no idea.

Dessert Friday - Real Ice Cream - 04/03/09

Susan liked the Rum Raisin but I thought it tasted a little artificial. Overall the ice cream was passable but not great. I’m still annoyed at places that load up their ice cream with artificial colors and this place goes overboard, the rose ice cream is pinker than any rose I’ve ever seen.

Dessert Friday - Real Ice Cream - 04/03/09

I wouldn’t go here for great ice cream, but they do have some fun flavors.

Dessert Friday - Real Ice Cream - 04/03/09

Real Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

19 Market – 03/28/09

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By Carl Haynes, March 30, 2009 1:54 pm

We originally intended to visit Gumbo Jumbo but after standing at the door for 10 minutes without even a nod, we left and went across the street to 19 Market, a vietnemise bistro.

19 Market looks very nice when you walk in, it looks like a nice modern bistro. The person greeting us was friendly but unfortunately the place was completely empty (this seems to be a theme with restaurants in downtown San Jose). He looked a little disappointed when we said we only wanted dessert but tried to not show it.

We ordered the Tropical Sweet Rolls ($8.00) and the Tropical Ice Cream ($8.00). In addition we both ordered green tea ($3.00 each!). Unfortunately the desserts were disappointing all around.

The Tropical Sweet Rolls was a bit better than the ice cream, they were essentially egg rolls with fruit inside. We thought the wrapper was a little heavy for the delicate fruit inside. The coconut ice cream wasn’t too bad (and better than the ice cream that came with the ice cream dish)

Maya - 03/28/09

The ice cream was pretty bad, it tasted like store bought ice cream that had been sitting in the freezer too long. it had some large ice pieces in it and was bright green and orange, never a good sign. The flavors weren’t too vibrant and overall it was just not that good. We ended up not even finishing it, a first for us with ice cream.

Maya - 03/28/09

19 Market on Urbanspoon

Heaven’s Dog – 03/24/09

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By Carl Haynes, March 26, 2009 1:19 pm

We had Dessert Friday on Tuesday this week as my sister and her lovely children arrived in San Francisco for spring break. They were staying around the corner from Heaven’s Dog so we took the opportunity to try it out. We were only able to score 5:30 reservations, but we were happy with that since we had Maya along.

For a change we did dinner as well as dessert. We all enjoyed the small plates, I liked the pork belly buns and Maya chowed down on the salt and pepper squid. But enough about that, on to the desserts.

We ordered the Thai Basil Ice Cream and Chocolate Terrine.

I loved the thai basil ice cream, as did Maya. It was herby and had just the right amount of sweetness. Susan thought it was too “herby” but Maya disagreed as she plowed through it. I thought it could have done without mandarin oranges as they didn’t add much to the dish. Maybe some kind of crunch, possibly a cookie would have been nice.

Heaven's Dog - 03/24/09

My lovely nieces, Emma and Lydia, also seemed to quite enjoy it.

Heaven's Dog - 03/24/09

The chocolate terrine was thick and rich with a nice bittersweet tone. Susan thought it hit the right notes. It was also quite delicious.

Heaven's Dog - 03/24/09

Heaven's Dog & Noodle Shop (SoMa Grand) on Urbanspoon

Coconuts – 03/13/09

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By Carl Haynes, March 17, 2009 3:00 pm

On Friday we headed to Palo Alto to visit Coconuts, a caribbean restaurant off of University Avenue.

We found a nice, friendly spot that would be a great place to come back for dinner. But since we were there for dessert, lets get to it!

Susan ordered the Coconut Crème Brulee ($7.50). Which was a decent creme brulee, but with out too much of an underlying coconut flavor. We thought just a bit more coconut flavor would have been better, as it was unless we knew the name we probably wouldn’t have guessed there was coconut in it.

Coconuts - 03-13-09

I ordered the Sweet Potato Pudding ($6.95) which was the hit of the evening. It had a nice texture, more like a cake, and not too much sweetness. We really found it tasty. We felt that it would have been perfect with a little ice cream however. It was good enough that we would contemplate returning just for more.

Coconuts - 03-13-09

We enjoyed the very friendly, family atmosphere of the restaurant and were made to feel at home from the minute we walked in the door. We are anxious to return to try the curried goat which just happens to be one of our favorite things to eat.

Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Sweet Retreat – 03/06/09

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By Carl Haynes, March 10, 2009 2:22 pm

In our continuing quest to visit all the ice cream shops in the south bay, last Friday we went to Sweet Retreat near the Oakridge Mall.

Sweet Retreat is a small chain in the area, I think they have 3 or 4 shops. We found out, disappointingly, that they do not make their own ice cream. They by from Treat which supplies a lot of shops in the area. Treat does not even make their own base, buying it from Crystal and then adding their own flavorings.

All that said, the ice cream wasn’t terrible, in fact the Marble Butterscotch was pretty good. It was also a pretty good value for the money.

We started out ordering the sampler which was 5 flavors for 6 bucks. The scoops are really large and after three flavors we told them to stop because we knew we wouldn’t even finish those. We had the Marble Butterscotch, Burgundy Cherry, and Mango.

Dessert Friday - 03/06/09

The Mango had large pieces of pulp (too large for my taste, it was pretty stringy and not very appetizing). Treat seems to be very proud of the Mango ice cream and it was nice that they used real fruit, but it just didn’t have much taste and wasn’t very good.

The Burgundy Cherry also was mediocre with a bit of maraschino cherry taste. The best of the night was the marble butterscotch which has a nice rich butterscotch taste. The butterscotch scoop was the only one we finished.

The overall texture of the ice cream was fine, except for the Mango the ice cream wasn’t to icy and had a decent mouth feel.

Dessert Friday - 03/06/09

I think our feelings are summed up in that this is a perfectly passable ice cream place, if you are looking for a bargain and half-way decent ice cream. I wouldn’t go here if you are looking for the best artisan-made ice cream though.

Sweet Retreat on Urbanspoon

Gochi — 02/27/09

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By Carl Haynes, March 2, 2009 3:52 pm

On Friday we visited Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas for Dessert Friday. I had been there once before, a few years ago, for dinner and enjoyed it so we thought we’d se how dessert fared.

We arrived about 9:30 and were promptly seated, we took one of their low tables in the middle of the restaurant that space underneath for your legs (a welcome nod to us Americans who can’t sit for long on the floor!). We should have taken one of the side tables so we could have had a high chair as Maya does a little better when she’s contained. She was fine but kept wanting to get up and wander off.

We had to wait a bit for our order to be taken, I think we were forgotten as the person who seated us finally came back and asked if our order had been taken yet and apologized when we said no.

I ordered the black sesame ice cream ($5.00) and Susan ordered the Yuzu Mouse ($5.00). We took advantage of the free green tea.

The black sesame ice cream was tasty, with three hearty scoops for our five bucks. We couldn’t tell if it was store bought or house made which is a good thing, it was creamy without much hint of being too long in the freezer. The black sesame added a nice savory flavor to it and is a flavor I’d try again.

Maya - 03-01-09

The Yuzu mouse was tart refreshing. The mouse had a little bit of a strange texture but we couldn’t quite put our fingers on why we thought it was odd. It came with a very sugary syrup at the base which was good when combined with the mouse. Not having had Yuzu before we were not quite sure what to expect. For us, it tasted a bit too lemony, in fact if we hadn’t seen the menu we would have guessed it was a lemon mouse. It was fine, but we were just hoping to taste something a bit different.

Maya - 03-01-09

Overall we liked it, and the staff were friendly. I don’t think we would recommend going just for dessert but if we were there for dinner, we’d order the desserts again.

Gochi on Urbanspoon

Calafia – 02/20/09

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By Carl Haynes, February 24, 2009 2:30 pm

Rain and sickness has kept us away from our mission for a bit. But we were back in action on Friday. We wanted to visit the new Mayfield Bakery in Palo Alto but it looked a bit too crowded so we went next door to another place we’ve been wanting to try: Calafia. Calafia is best known as being opened by Charlie Ayers who is best known for being the head chef at Google.

The restaurant looks nice and is somewhat cozy, maybe its the big pizza oven in the open kitchen. There weren’t any tables available so we sat at the bar, they brought a high chair but it was much too small to fit at the bar so Maya sat on my lap.

Susan ordered the Warm Apple Galette ($8.00) and I ordered the Meyer Lemon Tart ($8.00). We both ordered tea ($3.00), they had a selection of Numi Teas.

The desserts took a little while to come out, luckily one of the benefits of sitting at the bar is that Maya has lots to look at, she was very interested in watching the people run around the kitchen.

The meyer lemon tart was nicely balanced but looked nothing like the picture on the website. It did, however, look like I was expecting it too as I hadn’t seen the website yet. I thought it was quite good, but it wasn’t Susan’s favorite. It came with a single section of citrus, it tasted like grapefruit but it may have been blood orange.

Maya - 02-22-09

The Warm Apple Galette was quite tasty, the website listed the crust as puff pastry but it tasted like much more of a traditional pie dough and was quite tender. The apples were warm and soft, the vanilla tasted like it had been made in house and had a nice custardy taste. We didn’t get much of the ice cream though, as Maya gobbled it down in no time.

Maya - 02-22-09

Calafia Cafe on Urbanspoon

La Crema d’ Italia – 02/07/09

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By Carl Haynes, February 7, 2009 2:22 pm

On Friday, we had the idea of trying La Crema d’ Italia in the Oakridge Mall. I was very skeptical of mall gelato, but since it wasn’t a chain, I thought there might be a chance that it would be ok. I was wrong.

This was the worst ice cream I have ever had!

I used to think that there was good ice cream and there was great ice cream, but there is no bad ice cream. La Crema d’ Italia proved me wrong.

I had the Vanilla and the Pistachio, Susan has Pineapple Coconut and Rum Raisin. The Vanilla was possible and the texture wasn’t too bad. The pistachio was just nasty, it tasted like rancid nuts and had a very almondy aftertaste.

The pineapple coconut tasted artificial and was very icy. We’re thinking the scooper must have scooped the wrong flavor for the rum raisin because it tasted like peanut butter.

It’s hard to say we were disappointed because we weren’t expecting much, but even those low expectations weren’t met. We’d suggest staying as far away as you can.

La Crema D'Italia on Urbanspoon

Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream – 01/31/09

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By Carl Haynes, February 6, 2009 7:39 pm

Last Saturday, after a brief hiatus, we were back in Dessert Friday action. We’re hoping to do a pretty complete ice cream roundup over the next few weeks and we’re starting with Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream in Palo Alto.

Rick’s is generally known for having the best house made ice cream in the area and have won a number of best-of awards over the years.

The shop is a good size for an ice cream shop and well lit. It has a fair number of seats inside though I imagine they wish they had more outside for the summer. The two people working there were friendly and helpful.

Ricks Ice Cream - 01/31/09

We got 4 scoops total. I got the French Vanilla (I decided that this was going to be my standard tasting flavor for all the shops) and the Carmel Praline. I though the flavors were a little too muted on both, but the smoothness and sweetness were very good. My guess is that are using flavorings rather than more natural ingredients. There were no vanilla bean flecks in the vanilla ice cream, there is however a Vanilla Bean flavor that I assume is made with vanilla beans.

Rick's Ice Cream - 01/31/09

Susan had the maraschino cherry chip and the White Chocolate Ginger Ice Cream. The White Chocolate Ginger was the best of the night. Nice string ginger flavor and very creamy. The cherry chip was probably our least favorite, again with muted flavors and artificial looking color. I never understand why ice cream places put artificial colors in their ice creams, especially local hand made shops. It looks really bad in my eyes.

Overall we liked the ice cream, and would happily return on a hot summer night. They definitely got the Maya seal of approval!

Ricks Ice Cream - 01/31/09

Rick's Rather Rich Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Tamarine – 01/16/08

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By Carl Haynes, January 19, 2009 2:19 pm

On Friday we loaded up the Dessert Fridaymobile and headed out to visit Tamarine, a Vietnamese place in Palo Alto.

Tamarine - 01/16/09

Tamarine strives to be an “upscale” Vietnamese restaurant, the first hint being we couldn’t find the door. It was hidden behind some curtains (maybe they do that to keep the cold out?). The hostess saw us wandering around and gestured to indicate where the door was. The place was packed but she said they could fit us in. After I saw her grabbing the menus, I remembered to tell her that we were just there for dessert. All of a sudden they were full and she had to “ask her manager” if they can find us a seat. No big deal, I understand that they want people who will be paying for a full dinner, but still kind of weird.

Well, I guess the manager thought we were ok because we got out seat. They brought out a baby seat and we were set to go. Our waiter was very friendly and engaging, even Maya liked him! We ordered tea ($4.00!) and I ordered the banana biegnets ($8.00) and Susan ordered the pineapple crepe (also $8.00).

The pineapple crepe was nice, the crepe was tender and the pineapples were grilled (I think). It came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream which was fine but not spectacular. Maya enjoyed it but the vanilla flavor was somewhat muted.

Tamarine - 01/16/09

The banana beignets were nice and tested freshly fried. The bananas were sweet and soft. The coconut ice cream was somewhat of a miss without a lot of flavor.

Tamarine - 01/16/09

We enjoyed the restaurant and the service was quite good. We thought the desserts were fine but nothing stood out as extraordinary. Overall I would not recommend going just for the desserts.

Tamarine on Urbanspoon

Nazca Peruvian Cuisine – 01/09/09

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By Carl Haynes, January 12, 2009 2:23 pm

I stumbled upon Nazca Peruvian Cuisine on Yelp while trying to decide on a restaurant to visit this week. Their website is just a “coming soon”, so we decided to take a leap of faith and try it out (the deciding factor being that they are open until 10:00 on weekends). Given our poor track record with restaurants in downtown San Jose, I was a little apprehensive but still hopeful that we can find something unique and tasty.

We were well rewarded, we loved this place!

We arrived about 9:30 and the place was nearly empty, with just one or two tables taken. The person who greeted us had look of relief when we told him we were just here for dessert, I have a feeling they had already started packing up for the night in the kitchen.

We got our menus and ordered tea (over-priced at $3.00). Two of the dishes stood out, both of which I can’t remember the name on the menu.

The first was layers of meringue, raspberries and a pastry cream. This came with a small container of coconut cream on the side as well as a scoop of passion fruit ice cream. The meringue was nice and crisp and the flavors all combined nicely. We weren’t quite sure what we were supposed to do with the coconut cream. Were we supposed to pour it over everything, just the ice cream? We ended up pouring it on the plate to mix with our spoonfuls of dessert.

01-09-09 - Nazca Peruvian Cuisine

The other dessert was just as much of a hit. Bananas wrapped in phyllo and fried (I think). This came with a side of Mango Ice Cream (or was it sorbet, I really need to write this down as we order). The bananas were soft and sweet and played nicely against the crisp phyllo. The Mango was a little subdued, I think I preferred the passion fruit ice cream on the other plate, but Maya much preferred the Mango.

01-09-09 - Nazca Peruvian Cuisine

The desserts were nicely presented and really delicious. We also vowed to visit the restaurant for dinner some time. It’s nice to finally find a restaurant we like in downtown San Jose.

Nazca Peruvian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Zahir’s – 01/02/09

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By Carl Haynes, January 6, 2009 2:11 pm

With the New Year’s festivities behind us, we braved the cold weather for another Dessert Friday. Our original plan was to hit up Banana Leaf, a popular Malaysian place in Milpitas. Upon arriving Banana Leaf we found a restaurant overflowing so we kept on moving. I was thinking we’d try the Italian place near Safeway, but on our way we noticed a “Grand Opening” sign on a restaurant named Zahir’s. European and Californian Cuisine the sign said so we made the detour.

Zahir’s has taken over an old Baker’s Square building and while they whitewashed the building, it still looks like a generic chain restaurant building. Inside was nicer, though the booths still remain. They’ve done a good job with the what they had. We were greeted by a very nice gentleman (who we learned later was the owner) and were gently whisked to a side booth away from the main diners. We never mind this kind of treatment given that we have a toddler in tow.

We were given the dessert menu and debated between several items. We eventually settled on the lemon ice cream and the cheesecake. After a few minutes we were brought the chocolate pyramid. The waitress dropped it off and left before we could tell her that we hadn’t ordered that dessert. We waited for 5 minutes or so but since no one ever came back to check on us, I had to get the owner to fix the situation. The waitress came back to take the previous dessert and told us accusingly that that is what she had heard us order. She must have been confused while we debated what we wanted to order. We did sneak a picture before they took it away.

Zahir's - 01-02-09

Eventually our real orders came. The hit of the evening was the lemon ice cream covered with crushed meringue. The ice cream had the perfect tartness and the meringue added some nice texture. We were surprised that Maya dug in and enjoyed it as she’s usually not big an things that are too lemony.

Zahir's - 01-02-09

Zahir's - 01-02-09

The owner stopped by to check on us and unfortunately Maya got scared (sometimes she freaks out with some people) and cried for a bit. When she gets scared she closes her eyes and refuses to open them. We kept spooning mouthfuls of ice cream to keep the crying down. When she finally opened her eyes and looked around to see that no one was behind her, she was fine and continued eating happily. They brought her some strawberries and chocolate which was a nice touch and she happily munched away on the strawberries, ignoring the chocolate.

The cheesecake was good, but not spectacular. There was certainly nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it. I was surprised that Maya wasn’t a big fan of cheesecake, she tried some then went right back to the ice cream.

Zahir's - 01-02-09

With the exception of the ordering mix-up we liked the restaurant. We’re very happy that there’s some non-chain places in that part of town. We didn’t take a look at the main menu, but we hope they do well.

please note that the urban spoon location is wrong (they’ve moved). The new address is:
174 Calaveras Boulevard
Milpitas, CA 95035

Zahir's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Arcadia – 12/26/08

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By Carl Haynes, December 27, 2008 2:04 pm

After skipping Dessert Friday last week due to Maya being under the weather, we were back in action yesterday, visiting Arcadia in downtown San Jose.

We had high hopes for the restaurant because it is in the Michael Minna group which has a reputation for high quality and good food. The fact that it was in a Marriott was a little worrying but we were willing to over look that.

The restaurant looks nice and is very near the Christmas light display downtown so we were a little worried about crowds. However when we arrived at about 9:00 there were a few people at the bar but the rest of the place was deserted. I can’t imagine how they are still in business if they are completely empty on a Friday night. Our expectations started dropping rapidly.

We waited a few minutes while the the hostess chatted on the phone without even acknowledging us standing in front of her before. The table we got was fine and we were happy that they had a high chair available.

The service was reasonably friendly, though once again we were not given napkins. I don’t know what it is about us that makes wait staff not want to bring us napkins a and silverware.

I ordered “Michael’s Root Beer Float” ($8.00) which consisted of sassafras ice cream, root beer sorbet and chocolate chip cookies. It also had some chocolate curls made up to look like straws.

Arcadia - 12/26/08

I felt the sorbet was way too icy. It made it seem like root beer with large chunks of ice. rather than a creamy root beer float which is what we expected. The ice cream was ok, but not too flavorful. The cookies were warm but not all that tender. Over all it was a disappointment.

Susan ordered the fresh doughnuts which came with a deconstructed bananas foster. There was a caramel-like ice cream (which was probably the best thing of the evening) as well as some bananas, what tasted like a mixture of nuts and brown sugar and some small dollops of cream.

Arcadia - 12/26/08

The doughnuts were warm but a little to stiff and cakey. I would have preferred a more light yeasty doughnut. The whole banana foster deconstruction was a little weak and none of the pieces were good enough to stand on their own.

Our impression overall was that there was not enough turn over in the restaurant to have really fresh desserts and that these seem like some of the ingredients have been sitting around too long waiting to be ordered.

Arcadia - 12/26/08

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The Oaxacan Kitchen – 12/12/08

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By Carl Haynes, December 14, 2008 2:03 am

We were looking for something a little different this week so we decided to visit The Oaxacan Kitchen. As the name implies, The Oaxacan Kitchen specializes in dishes from the Oaxacan region of Mexico. The restaurant has gotten a lot of good press and is highly regarded in the area. The family who runs the restaurant got their start selling tamales and moles at the local farmers markets and their menus reflect the connection to local, seasonal food. This is one restaurant we really want to return to for a full dinner.

The restaurant closes at 9:00 so we arrived much earlier than our typical Dessert Friday. Arriving about 8:15 we found the place packed (it’s a fairly small restaurant), but despite the recent cold wave we noticed that there was an empty table on the sidewalk as well as a heat lamp generating generous amounts of warmth. While the crowds were waiting for a table inside to open up, we were seated immediately outside.

Oaxacan Kitchen - 12/12/08

I ordered the Oaxacan Chocolate Experience ($8.00) and Susan wavered between the Fresh Blackberry Lime Crisp ($7.00) and the Fresh Pear Almond Tart ($6.00). She ultimately decided on the tart thinking it would be fun to compare to last weeks tart at Twist Bistro.

We ordered tea ($2.00) and it was brought with only Sweet and Low and Splenda packets (neither of which we like), we asked for real sugar and was told they we out, but would check in the back! They never mentioned it again and while I drink my tea without sugar, Susan must have sugar in hers. Her tea sat full the entire time. I find it hard to believe that no where in the restaurant was a few teaspoons of sugar.

The Oaxacan Chocolate Experience played out in three parts, a flourless cake, chocolate ice cream and hot chocolate. I really enjoyed the cake, it had a strong bitter chocolate taste and was quite good. It was too bitter for both Susan and Maya so I got to eat most of it. The chocolate ice cream was a hit with Maya who ate it with abandon. It wasn’t terribly strong in the chocolate department and had hints of cinnamon in it. The hot chocolate was merely ok, it was luke warm and didn’t have nearly the complex flavors I was expecting.

Oaxacan Kitchen - 12/12/08

The pear tart was also quite good, and was head and shoulders above the version at Twist. This version had large chunks of pears that were nicely sweetened and softened as well as a very light almond crust. Susan was very happy with her choice. The cinnamon ice cream was a little one dimensional and while ok was not a hit with any of us. Maya chose to ignore it in favor of the chocolate ice cream.

Oaxacan Kitchen - 12/12/08

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Twist Bistro – 12/5/08

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By Carl Haynes, December 9, 2008 2:26 pm

We finally had a Dessert Friday on a Friday! We bundled ourselves up and headed for Campbell to visit Twist Bistro. The parking gods smiled upon us as we parked right outside the door.

We arrived about 9:00 and much to our surprise the place was full. We asked if we could sit outside (provided they could turn on the heater). They obliged us and soon we were getting nice and toasty under the heater. We must have thrown them for a loop by asking to be outside because we did not get any place settings or napkins.

The service was inviting and warm and everyone stopped to say hello to Maya. We ordered tea and they brought out the selection in what looked like a big cigar box. I chose a ginger lemon and Susan had an Earl Grey, I think both were your standard Stash teas.

For Dessert we really wanted the ginger-something souffle but didn’t want to wait the 20 minutes so we decided on the pear tart and the crepe suzette. Both came fairly quickly. I was disappointed that they did not flame the crepe suzette. In fact now that I think about it, I wonder if they did at all because it had some bit of alcohol taste. The crepe was quite good. Susan, who had never had crepe’s before, decided that she really likes crepes. I think we have a date with a crepe restaurant in our future. Maya, as usual, ate all the ice cream.

Twist Bistro 12/6/08

I enjoyed the pear tart, though maybe it should be called “pear” tart as the pears pieces were few and far between. The crust was nice and buttery and the filling was more bready than the usual tart filling. There was almond cream around the place with some pistachios. The cream didn’t add much to the dessert.

Twist Bistro 12/6/08

Overall our consensus was that we liked it but nothing stood out as extra-ordinary.

Twist Bistro 12/6/08

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Zibibbo – 11/29/08

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By Carl Haynes, November 30, 2008 11:54 pm

Saturday was our anniversary, which we spent in San Francisco. We decided to get dinner along the way home and chose Zibibbo because I remember having a great meal there several years ago and Susan was in the mood for some meat. Zibibbo is known for their roasted meats both from a wood fired oven and rotisserie.

I called earlier and asked if there would be any trouble walking in at 8:30 and they assured us there would not. When we arrived the place was not very full at all. I wondered if it was because Stanford was closed for the holiday or if the restaurant had gone down hill.

Susan ordered the Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Pork Loin (cooked on the rotisserie) with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (about $20.00). I wanted the Saturday rotisserie special, Air Dried Roasted Duck but was informed that it was sold out! Instead I went with the Grilled Skirt Steak with roasted potatoes (about $32.00!). The skirt steak was really tasty (though I wouldn’t say it was worth $32.00). The Pork was ok, but didn’t have a great deal of flavor.

Of course we ordered desserts.

I had the Apple Strudel with Rum Raisin ice cream. Susan had the chocolate Pot de Creme. The apple Strudel was delicious with a flaky filo crust. The rum raisin ice cream was a surprise because it was really rummy (and yummy). It was a little to rummy too give any to Maya, but we had no problem slurping it down. The pot de creme had a smooth taste of rich dark chocolate and was quite tasty but not extraordinary. Maya enjoyed the whip cream on top and after a few bites got used the bitter taste of the chocolate and had no problems devouring quite a bit of it.

Over-all our impression is that the restaurant is severely over-priced and the food was not in the league that I had remembered it. We might return for desserts, but will not be coming back for dinner.

San Fancisco 11/29/08

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Habana Cuba Restaurant – 11/21/08

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By Carl Haynes, November 23, 2008 3:15 am

After our aborted attempt to visit Habana Cuba in San Jose last week, we decided to give it another try on Friday.

We rolled up about 9:00 (about a half hour earlier than last week, just in case) and found a parking spot directly in front of the restaurant. We walked in a got a half-hearted grunt from one of the employees sitting by the door texting on his phone, we then go seated by another person who walked up a few seconds later.

We got the menus and Susan didn’t have to read any further than “Sweet plantains” in the description of Platanos Borrachos (Sweet plantains smothered in Prager’s Chocolate Port, topped with vanilla ice cream, $6.00). I was conflicted between the rice pudding and the Cascos de Guayaba (Guava shells, submerged in a sweet guava sauce, topped with cream cheese, $4.00), I chose the guava, I should have chosen the rice pudding.

Our desserts arrived literally within two minutes of placing the order. In a word, the desserts were lazy. For my guava, they just opened a can dumped some canned guava with the sugar juice and sliced off a hunk of cream cheese and stuck it in a bowl. It was terrible, about as bad a dessert as you can get.

Habana Cuba Restaurant

Luckily the plantains were a little better but not much. The plantains were nice and sweet but tasted like they had been cooked much earlier in the day. They would have been much better had they come right out of the oil, or at least warm. The ice cream tasted like standard supermarket brand vanilla, at least the fruit on top looked fresh.

Overall we got the picture of a lazy kitchen which just threw some stuff together from the cheapest ingredients it could fine without any thought to quality or taste.

At least Maya liked the ice cream.

Habana Cuba Restaurant

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Zitune – 11/15/08

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By Carl Haynes, November 16, 2008 4:42 pm

Once again Dessert Friday happened on a Saturday, but it wasn’t for lack of trying…

Friday night we packed ourselves up in the car and headed for Habana Cuba Restaurant in San Jose only to find them closed. When we asked why they weren’t open, the hostess said they hadn’t had a customer in an hour and a half so they shut down for the evening. Disappointed we drove around a little in downtown San Jose only to find every restaurant we tried to be closed. Nothing but bars were open. No wonder, according to the local paper, San Jose has the largest number of drunk arrests in the state. We gave up and went home.

After striking out Friday, we hit a home run on Saturday.

We made our way to Zitune in Los Altos. Because there’s very little open in the evening in Los Altos parking was easy and we found a city already lit up for Christmas (apparently Friday was the street lighting festivities).

IMG_1041

Zitune is a Moroccan restaurant and looks like it has a very interesting dinner menu that we plan to try one day, but tonight we were all about dessert. It’s been unseasonably warm so we took advantage of the outdoor tables so that Maya wouldn’t bother people too much (not that she usually does).

11-15-08 Zitune

The service was very friendly and our waiter highly recommended the Moroccan Briouats so I ordered that while Susan ordered the Medjool Date Cake. We both had tea.

The Briouats are triangles of phylo dough stuffed with a date mixture and served warm with a honey sauce and some vanilla ice cream. We both enjoyed them (Maya loved the ice cream), the phylo dough was almost caramelized on the outside and the honey was thick like caramel. The warm date mixture melted in your mouth as you ate.

11-15-08 Zitune

The date cake was the hit of the evening. It was served warm and had a complex mix of spices that hit the spot without being overwhelming. It was settled among what I believe to be an almond cream sauce that was nice. Overall a very successful dish that left us wanting more.

11-15-08 Zitune

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Bouchon Bakery/Bistro Jeanty – 11/06/08

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By Carl Haynes, November 7, 2008 7:09 pm

Thursday was my birthday, so we headed to one of my favorite restaurants, Bistro Jeanty for both dinner and dessert.

but…before we get to that, lets talk about Bouchon Bakery. We knew we were going to stuff ourselves at Bistro Jeanty but we also knew that we couldn’t be in the neightborhood of Bouchon and not get anything. So our compromise was to get some pastries to go with the plan to eat them the next day, which we did in a picnic outside of the children’s museum.

We got a lemon tart and a fruit tart. We both loved the fruit tart which was full of blueberries, apples and other fruit. I enjoyed the lemon tart while Susan thought it was much to tart for her taste. I thought it had great lemon flavor with a nice tender crust. We also got one macaron which we both agreed was the highlight, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. We had the caramel macaron which was just about as perfect as a cookie can get. At $3.00 each they are quite expensive but I wish we had picked up a few more.We also bought a couple madelines which we passable but not great.

Now back to Bistro Jeanty, we arrived early (about 6:00) since we were eating a while dinner and we didn’t want Maya to disturb people if they were there for a special occaision. I loveBistro Jeanty because it is what I imagine country french cooking should be, lots of stews, and game like rabbit. I started with the onion soup which was rich and hearty with a nice layer of cheese on top. Maya loved slurping the broth and even Susan who generally dislikes onions admitted that it was tasty.

11-06-08 Bistro Jeanty [edited]

For dinner Susan had the coq au vin which was as good as we imagined. The sauce was think and rich and the chicken was tender and falling off the bone. I had a special which was slow roasted pork shoulder with a butternut squash gratin and brussel sprouts. The meat fell apart when you touched it and literally melted in your mouth. Maya ate some of the pork and a little of the chicken but wasn’t as enthused about the food as her parents.

Add dessert….Susan had the choclate mousse creme brulee ($9.00) which had silky milk chocolate taste that was quite pleasant. I thought the sugar crust was a bit burnt for my taste. It was quite dark and I think a tad lighter touch with the torch would have improved it.

11-06-08 Bistro Jeanty

I had the tarte tatin which had large pieces of very soft carmelized apples over a pastry crust with a nice helping of creme fraiche on the side. I was a little disappointed in the puff pastry crust, mostly because I was expecting more rich tart crust, but after looking around online, I think puff pastry is the more common typr of crust used so I may have had wrong expectations.

11-06-08 Bistro Jeanty

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Halloween – 10/31/08

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By Carl Haynes, November 2, 2008 6:57 pm

No need to go out this week thanks to Halloween. We had dessert at home.

Here’s what it looked like:

Halloween Candy 2008

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